IBA Champions Night

World Eliminator Champion victory for home boxer Shumkov at IBA Champions’ Night in Serpukhov

February 4th, 2024 / IBA Champions Night

Vsevolod Shumkov was crowned the Eliminator World Champion in front of a rapturous home crowd at the first IBA Champions’ Night of 2024 in Serpukhov, Russia.

It was a chance for redemption for him, having lost to established Cuban boxer Lazaro Alvarez at the previous IBA Champions’ Night in Dubai in December, this time facing Alvarez’s compatriot Saidel Horta.

A contest worthy of a main event, both athletes showed an intensity throughout in a bid to win the  сontender status in the 57kg category. Horta was making his IBA professional debut at the age of 21, taking on Shumkov, who is a year older and only recently made his debut. For both, a 10-round challenge was set for the very first time.

The early stages were level, with the world bronze medallist Shumkov showing more activity in the third round. The pace was relentless for 30 minutes of action – an incredible feat and a display of the athleticism of both boxers to have the energy to do so.

Horta often found himself fighting from a back foot stance, yet still kept the contest close, not seeming fazed by the Russian. The only major stoppage in the bout saw Shumkov treated for a head cut caused by a clash between the two, due to the offensive nature of both fighters.

Shumkov looked cleaner when breaking the bout down to the fine margins, gaining the approval of the judges.

As the bell rang for the final time at the end of the 10th  round, there was a nice moment of sportsmanship between them, before Shumkov was announced as the winner and the recipient of the Eliminator World Champion status.

Fighting in 71kg category in the penultimate match were Pavel Sosulin from Russia and Fatih Keles of Türkiye. Both traded blows, often finding themselves at stalemates, striking at close range, locked in together, vying for the IBA European title.

Sosulin faced a lot of offence in the opening stages, but soon found control, frequently taking Keles to the ropes and leading on the front foot. By the end of the fifth round, the Russian was much more comfortable and had Keles defending to last the whole eight rounds. The Turkish boxer was still capable of surprise jabs of his own, but they were far outweighed by the onslaught delivered by Sosulin. By round seven, there were clear strikes to the head of Keles, who dropped to the mat, for a count of eight. Just as he got back up, he was met with another flurry of punches against the ropes and could not defend himself, giving Sosulin the knockout victory and IBA European champion belt.

A battle of the titans was held between undefeated Artem Suslenkov of Russia and Belgium’s  Bilal Laggoune at the 92+kg weight category. Suslenkov led on the front foot and never seemed to relent, giving Laggoune little room to manoeuvre in the contest. This pressure continued until the match was won by technical knockout at the end of the second round.

There was a home crowd for Artem Ageev, hailing from Serpukhov but representing Serbia, against Aliaksei Alfiorau from Belarus in the 80kg contest for the IBA European Champion title. After a composed start for Ageev, he faced a referee’s count in the third round, following an aggressive stint from Alfiorau.

From there, the Serbian did not look the same and Alfiorau was crowned the new IBA European champion after Ageev was deemed unable to continue before the start of the fourth round due to hand injury.

Alexander Dorofeev was in the heaviest bout of the night, competing at 92+kg against Austine Nnamdi of Nigeria, holding a sizeable weight and height difference over him. Despite not holding the reach over his opponent, Nnamdi was capable of catching the Russian out with his speed. Dorofeev was useful with uppercut blows to the stomach, fending off some of the aggression coming his way.

The speed from the Nigerian would eventually slow down and Dorofeev found a combination that had his foe against the ropes. Just after the halfway stage, Nnamdi would deliver an equally-devastating flurry of punches that had the Russian rolling. A close contest, but judges would side with Dorofeev after six rounds.

The opening match was contested between two equally-matched opponents, Russia’s Ruslan Belousov and Zholdas Zhengissov of Kazakhstan at 57kg. Both 25 years old and just an inch between them in height, one was set to lose their unbeaten record at professional level.

Considered shots were taken by both boxers in the first round, but Belousov’s were more impactful. A great combination in the fourth round from the home favourite received a strong applause from the crowd. Zhengissov was able to corner his opponent in the fifth, but even then, the Russian fought his way out of it and kept the momentum in his favor. Unsurprisingly, a unanimous decision went the way of Belousov.

After a muted opener, Serbian Pavel Federov and Armenia’s Davit Azizyan were hot out of the gates in their 63.5kg bout. The ferocity of the fight in its early rounds meant there was little fluidity at first, but as the match and the boxers wore on, the cleaner the shots became. Federov could be seen showboating before the match had finished, such was his confidence that he would be named the victor – and would be, unanimously.